not sure if this has been posted already, but i've never read it before:-
edit: it's actually not new, it's from 2002.
complete 2002 interview from this journo's blog:
http://blogs.lesinrocks.com/j-ghosn/ind ... -canada#co
What are your earliest musical memories ?
Mike: I remember annoying my family by playing tunes on my grandparents' piano all day. I had a mostly happy childhood, always getting into trouble, which is probably a good way to learn about the world. I remember when I was very little playing in a park and an older girl told me that worms were born inside the veins on the leaves on trees, and I believed her.
I've been in love with music since I was a baby, it's very hard to remember a specific time. I can remember when I was a toddler standing up on the back seat of my parent's car singing songs at the top of my voice. The earliest record I can remember hearing on the radio was Terry Jacks' version of 'Seasons in the Sun', which was in the charts at the time.
I started to make my own music when I was about 5 or 6 years old, because my grandparents had a piano and I used to beg my parents to let me go there to play it. I didn't do formal lessons at that time, so I just made tunes up.
How did you start BOC ?
Marcus: About twelve years ago we were using a few different names for our projects, as we had a live band with guitars, as well as recording electronic things as side projects. One of the projects was Boards of Canada, named after the National Film Board of Canada, because we used to watch the documentaries made by the National Film Board and the music was usually synth-based and had a distinctive 'damaged' quality. I think perhaps the tapes they mastered the soundtracks on were poor quality, and the music had drop-outs and 'wow and flutter', which inspired our sound.
Marcus: We've always been quite prolific and back then all that mattered to us was to give all our friends copies of our music, so we started making up tapes and packaging them, and circulating them. It was just for the love of it so we never asked anyone to pay for them. We were struggling to raise cash to do it so we worked in crappy day-jobs. We started to set up our studio and it meant we needed to somehow get our music out to more people so we could fund what we do. It was mostly a fun time but we had some very tough years. In 1993 we all suffered and had a terrible year for various personal reasons, and everything nearly went down the drain. But somehow we kept on with recording and playing local gigs and things got a lot better.
We recorded a sort of mini-album called 'Twoism', for the first time with the intention of sending them to bands we liked. We got 100 copies pressed on vinyl with our own cash. I think we only gave away about 50 copies in the end, to a few bands and friends and so on. One of the copies went to Autechre, and Sean Booth called us up the day after we sent it, and asked us to do a record with Skam, which they were involved with. Then we made an EP with Skam, and then Warp called us up, and we decided to make an album to be released jointly by both labels, in 1998, which turned into 'Music Has the Right to Children'.
Are you workaholics ?
Mike: Yes I'd say we are. I suffer from insomnia too which doesn't help. We spend a hell of a lot of our time writing music, and only a small amount of what we record gets released.
Marcus: We usually work on tracks in parallel, several at once. Some of the tracks on 'Geogaddi' were started in 1999 then re-visited later and finished in 2001. Some of the tracks on 'Music Has the Rightâ€¦' were recorded two years before it was released. We sometimes work intensively on one track for about a month or so. An average day when we're in the studio is something like 15 hours of work. We often go for about a week doing that, and then we just snap and have to get out before we kill ourselves.
How do you compose your tracks ? Is there a method ?
Mike: I find it very easy to write tracks. I write tunes all the time. I have music playing in my head all the time. I think it's a part of the reason for my insomnia. I'll run out of life long before I run out of music.
Why do you avoid most public appearances ?
Marcus: Ha, we're not particularly shyâ€¦ We just feel more in control of what we're doing if we keep everyone away from us. We're not really hermits as some people seem to think. We have a lot of friends and we do a lot of other things besides this music. We got involved with music years ago because we love the music, we've never had any desire to become famous or to push ourselves on people. We love doing what we do, and we intend to carry on making music for many years, so it's important that we keep it at a level where we don't feel that it is putting too much pressure on our lives. It's also important to us not to take it all too seriously.
Mike: To some extent, we believe that getting well known for your music is a toxic thing for the band. People start to feel that they own you and your music, and they get very particular about what they want you to do. It can become claustrophobic. So the way we deal with it is to keep everyone and everything at arm's length. We've not allowed ourselves or our lives to change at all since the band became better known. It's much better this way. Somehow we write much better music when we don't imagine anyone hearing it. I'm not sure why this works but it does. It's cool because we keep ourselves inspired just like the early days when nobody had ever heard our music.
Marcus: Yes that's just it. When we started out we spent years playing music in the 'standard band format' of drums guitars and voices. Our backgrounds in music are very different from what we're doing in Boards of Canada. We were never DJ's or whatever, and we didn't come to electronic music from the computer side of things. When we first got into electronics in the mid-1980's we would record all the parts by hand, we didn't have sequencers. So it makes sense that we still write in that way nowadays.
Mike: We still play live instruments all the time. We both play a few different instruments. We have quite a few guitars. We collect instruments, and I've got a lot of percussion instruments for example. We record music like this a lot, though we just haven't released any of it on the scale that we are releasing the Boards of Canada tracks. But one day we will.
There is a common quality to most of your tracks : the decaying of the sound, like it is on the verge of falling apart
Mike: We just destroy the sound. Most people spend ages trying to polish the sound and improve it, but we use tapes and old gear and analogue synths to downgrade the sound and make it more damaged, to sound older.
You seem to champion a way of life outside of urban environments
Marcus: We've both spent most of our lives in the country, although we've both also had periods of our lives living in cities too. We get more ideas for our music and art when we're in the countryside. It's not easy to explain. We think it's because being in the city tends to make musicians influence each other, and fashions and so on get mingled. You can't avoid being homogenised in the city. But when you're away from it you can let your imagination run wild and you don't stop for a minute to worry about what other people are going to think of your work. The peace we get in the countryside is analogous to having space in your head to dream.
what about the ecological concerns that seem to be at the core of your records ?
Mike: It's not a huge deal to us, it's just one issue we're concerned about, amongst a lot of issues. We're conscious of world issues such as the environment, debt, terrorism, censorship, human rights, and so on, and we can be very outspoken about our political beliefs at times, but usually we try to avoid letting it into our music. Another reason for the inclusion of those tracks is just the aesthetic of them, I mean we believe in the statements, but we also want to include things like that just because they evoke a certain type of Governmental public-awareness broadcast. It adds to the idea that you're not actually listening to an album by one band, but in fact a collage of different recordings, a bit like tuning between stations on a shortwave radio.
Is there much pressure when working on a new record ?
Marcus: The only pressure on us when we're recording music is from ourselves. If you let the fans or the record company start to apply pressure on you, your music would suffer. So we just keep away from everyone and get on with jamming and writing, and after a while a record comes out of it. Mike: That's precisely one of the most important things about us as a band. We hate listening to perfect music, and one of the things we strive to do is to damage the sound in such a way that the listener can't tell what time-period the music comes from. We have a lot of techniques for this, such as obvious things like adding drop-outs, wobble, filtering, scratches, flutters, as well as a few secret recipes. The damaged sound adds a character that you can associate with an imaginary and distant time or place. It's like a barely controlled chaos, it's always on edge, threatening to fall apart, just like the best music of the past, before everyone started using computers to sanitise and sterilise music in a cold and clinical way.
You have been an inspiration to many musicians. Are you aware of your huge influence ?
Marcus: We're a bit clueless about this to be honest, especially as we just get on with things and we don't listen to a lot of current 'electronica'. If we've inspired anyone to make their own records then that's great.
Mike: Absolutely not. I mean it's gratifying to know that people are out there who are really into our music, and those people matter to us. But commercial success and being in magazines and so on is a bit of a stress really and we don't care for it. You can't look at music as a business or a competition at the same time as making music you genuinely love. And we will never make music that we don't genuinely love.
What inspires you ?
Mike: Everything! We listen to a lot of different things, and most of it isn't electronic. We read a lot and watch films and TV. We're like sponges, we soak up everything in and it gives us ideas. Right now I'm getting a lot of inspiration from music by Clouddead, Vaughan Williams, early Cocteau Twins, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, 1970's reggae, Aspera, and books on Nikola Tesla and maths, and films like 'The Illustrated Man' and 'Dark Star'. Marcus: We had a lot more than that. The big problem was putting together a few tracks that suited each other as a sort of continuous soundtrack. It's just an instinctive approach.
What influences you mostly ?
Mike: It's actually very difficult for us to talk about our direct influences because we've been listening to an incredible mix of things since we were very young. It's actually easier for us to name areas of music that we DON'T have an interest in! As for Steve Reich and his peers, we love this kind of music but we discovered it quite late, after we were creating our own experiments for years. Our biggest difficulty as both writers of music and listeners of music is the process of 'distilling' our influences down and eliminating all the things we don't want to do.
Marcus: We're interested in these things but not practitioners. We see ourselves as observers, outside all this stuff, like the religion theme and so on. They're all just subjects we're interested in, that inspire music somehow. At the end of the day, we're just trying to make music.